Nowadays everybody has a smart phone, this has made the information super highway more accessible than it has ever been. This is great when the facts are clear. I constantly find myself looking things up on my Wikipedia app. However, many of my personal training clients express confusion on how to approach their diet because of all the conflicting information they read and are told. This seems to be even more confusing for women who are constantly bombarded with fad diets and misleading opinions. One thing you should realise is that everyone is an expert! Don’t get me wrong I definitely don’t know it all. However, I do have the qualifications and experience to back up what I recommend. I do find it hard to take when I listen to hearsay quotes that go completely against the science. This misinformation is usually targeted at women via the media and leads to bad practice in nutrition and some simple but damaging mistakes. In this section of our female fatloss series we will look at these common mistakes and also how to overcome them.
Not eating frequently
Unfortunately, starvation style diets are becoming more in fashion. New research has focused on the use of planned periods of fasting to induce fat loss. Unfortunately, this has led to people to be as extreme as to eat one meal a day! As soon as you start any restrictions in your diet whether it be by reducing calories or taking carbs out, your metabolism will slow down. Our goal as personal trainers is to reduce your body fat by keeping your intake low and your metabolism high. There is a number of ways you can keep your metabolism high when it drops initially. When of the most effective ways is through eating frequently. How can someone lose weight if they eat more meals? You may ask. The reason is that the frequent eating will give your body the job of breaking this food down, forcing the metabolism to stay high and keep you burning calories. This is especially important when you embark on a diet as your metabolism will slow down initially. Eat small healthy meals frequently throughout the day to promote fatloss, eating every 3 to 4 hours is a good starting point.
Not planning ahead
Thinking that London’s lunch spots will cater to your diet is a big mistake. It seems that paninis, baguettes and pasta salads are the only meal you can get at lunch in London. Therefore, if you want to keep your fatloss going you need to be prepared. Bringing your food to work in tupperwear boxes is the best way to do this. Also, batch cooking will allow you to be time efficient for those frequent feedings. Also, knowing where you can get good quality food on the go in your area is a way you can stick to your diet if you find yourself unprepared. Believe it or not there are places in London where you can get healthy food on the go, however, it will take a bit of research on your part by finding out where these places are. Although, it’s important to remember the only way to control what you eat completely is to make it yourself.
Being too strict year round
Although this is not a common mistake, I believe it is still worth mentioning. People who are so strict that they never cheat are more likely to lose control and completely fall off the band wagon. Generally speaking, the leaner you become the more insulin sensitive you are. Put simply, the leaner you are the more carbohydrates you can utilise and not convert to bodyfat. The point being when you get yourself in excellent shape (-10% bodyfat for a male and -15% for a woman) the more relaxed you can be with your diet. What’s important is to keep the dietary habits that got you into that shape for the rest of your life. Renowned nutrition expert John Berardi has an excellent rule for maintenance. The rule states, as long as you stick to your plan 90% of the time you can eat whatever you want 10% of the time. This equates to roughly 2-4 meals per week depending on your bodyweight. However, remember if you are nowhere near decent body fat levels (12% for a male, 18% for a female) this is not for you.
Missing breakfast is a very detrimental but unfortunately very common mistake. In my experience it is very common amongst female personal training clients. Poor food choices like crackers and cereals are specifically marketed at women as breakfast and snack foods. Missing breakfast is a bad mistake for a number of reasons. Firstly, eating protein at the start of the day is important to kick start your immune system. Secondly, your first meal of the day is crucial for your brain function and neurotransmitters, put simply you need protein for your brain to function optimally. Thirdly, eating a good meal at breakfast will kick start your metabolism setting you up for the day. I’ve mentioned the metabolism a number of times in this article, take charge of your metabolism and you will take charge of your fatloss. Missing breakfast will cause cravings later on making it more likely that you will eat junk food for a quick fix. Believe it or not cereal is one of the worst choices for breakfast as this will cause rapid rises in blood sugar causing you to store fat and also crash in energy later. Choose foods that will not give you rapid rises in blood sugar like animal protein, low glycemic fruits and nuts.
Looking for the easy option
The first thing that strikes me when I see diets promoted by mass media is that most of them are aimed at giving an easy way out. The titles usually say something along the lines of “Diet for 2 days a week and then eat what you want”. People need to face the fact that changing your body is hard, deal with it! There are no magic supplements and crash diets will work for a time and then you’ll be back to square one before you know it. Changing your dietary habits is what is key to keeping the gains that you make. Far too many people take the attitude of “living to eat” rather than “eating to live” when it comes to their nutrition. You have to face facts, it might be a long hard road to meeting your body composition goals but it will be worth it in the end.